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Dear Younger Self, Part 3: The Lessons of High School

You will begin to see that in the end we are all human and we are all longing, searching for the same things.

Dear High School Joe,

Finally through middle school!  Whew—we made it. Just barely, but we did.

These next four years are going to be amazing. But while they’ll be amazing you are going to learn some really hard lessons over this time period. First let me start with your greatest joy but your biggest downfall—girls.

Dude, you have got to relax. Slow down and little and breathe man. You don’t have to date all of them. I mean you certainly can try but don’t! Here in a short while after dating a few girls you will meet one that will sweep you off your feet. There’s something about her that you find irresistible and you won’t want to be away from her for even a minute.

You are going to get in your first serious dating relationship. I’ll be upfront with you Joe, it’s not going to end well. But it will be worth it. You will develop a friendship that will last you your entire life. So just go with it.

In this relationship you’re going to learn how to be a boyfriend and those lessons will in turn make you a better husband. Over the next two years (yes, you’ll date her for two years) you’re going to really fall in love for the first time. The feelings that you’ll have for her will be overwhelming and very intense. Sometimes it will literally take your breath away. But you are going to have to learn to control those feelings or they will suffocate her and those around you.

Unfortunately you two become “that couple”. You know what I’m talking about. That couple that’s always together, holding hands, making smoochy smoo noises at each other. You make everyone around you gag. Chill out man.

Oh and tamper down the jealousy issue. I know that you’ve never been here before and that you don’t mean to be jealous but it’s something that you’ll need to get a handle on to make other more mature relationships work.

And as you grow and love each other there will come a day when that will end. Not gonna lie to you Joe, it hurts. And I mean it really hurts. I know that you’ve had breakups before but this one is a nuclear explosion compared to those. It will be hard to breathe and your heart will hurt. Up to this point in your life you have never experienced emotional pain that translates into physical pain but you will feel this. 

But know that this will pass. Each day will get a little easier and you will regain parts of yourself that got lost in this love affair. You will begin to grow in love with your friends and deepen those bonds. You will see that those friendships will create some of the best memories of your life. You will learn to love The Evil Dead and you’ll see it so many times that you and your friends will have it memorized! You will go on float trips with them and watch a drunken moron jump of a tree branch into five inches of water and sprain both ankles. You’ll grow in your understanding of other lifestyles and other religions as your friendships blossom. You will begin to see that in the end we are all human and we are all longing, searching for the same things.

You’ll go to basketball games and travel to Columbia to watch the state tournament with your friends. They’ll be there to cheer you on in track and basketball and you’ll be there to cheer them on in their sports. You’ll race your jalopies with them, you’ll eat with them, you’ll go to school dances with them and you will love them forever.

Some you will lose touch with but those certain few you will remain friends with until the day you die. They will be your joy, your support group, and your ally. They will help carry you through thick and thin and you will love them deeply for it.

High school will be some of the best years of your life. But not THE best. You have some many great years ahead of you and so many other friends that you will meet. Just know that everything that happens to us in the next four years will prepare you for life outside of Wentzville and our parents’ home. Lessons being learned now serve you down the road to make better choices. 

You are also going to meet some amazing adults that will shape who you become in life. Stop talking and pay attention!

You will get the opportunity to have some life-changing conversations sitting in a classroom.

You will have the occasion to really expand your horizons. 

You’ll be challenged as to why you think like you do and given the chance to defend it. 

You will also have your eyes opened a little and rethink some things you thought were true.

Lessons learned in these four years will stay with you until adulthood. Five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and five minutes late don’t bother coming in is something deeply ingrained in you (some of you will remember that one). Your work ethic and determination are set in high school. You’ll learn that drive and effort can overcome a lack of natural ability and you’ll see that first hand. Joe, you will see how people will waste God given talent and wonder why they don’t work as hard. But seeing that will cause you to work even harder.

You’ll learn that sometimes you can give it your all and still fail. Just wait till you meet your junior year math teacher. He’s going to spot you 3 points for all your hard work so you can pass his class. But hold your head up man!  You earned that D-.  Later in life it will become your most memorable and favorite grade ever received. 

Joe, high school will teach you many things about life, love, friendship, and hard work. So many lessons are learned that I couldn’t even touch them all in this letter. Just know that it’s going to be an awesome, sometimes bumpy ride. These next four years will alter the course of your life and for the better. The foundations of the husband, father and friend you will be is laid in high school.

And don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER forget maybe the most important lesson of all…

“Do you love your Indians deep down in your hearts?
Yes we love our Indians deep down in our hearts!
HOW DEEP?  DEEP DEEP DOWN DOWN! DEEP DOWN IN OUR HEARTS!
HOW DEEP?  DEEP DEEP DOWN DOWN! DEEP DOWN IN OUR HEARTS!”

Deep down in our hearts indeed.

Sincerely Yours,

Older Joe

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